Photo copyright: Bike Taupo

Great Lake Trail


This is a two-day trail, but if you’re very fit and make an early start, you can ride from Waihaha Bridge to Whakaipo Bay in one day. You will be riding for a minimum of eight hours, plus half an hour for a boat trip to connect the two halves. You can get a shuttle from Taupo or Kinloch and arrange for the water taxi to pick you up at 1pm. Transport can be arranged by Tread Routes, Adventure ShuttlesGreat Lake Shuttles, or Chris Jolly Outdoors.

Waihaha to Kotukutuku Stream, (Grade 3 Intermediate) 30km

The start of the trail is 54km from Taupo, on the south side of the Waihaha River Bridge on Western Bays Rd (SH 32). From the car park, weave through forest on a flowing track towards the lake. There are a few fantastic lookouts on the way. After 14km you will pass a toilet and some signs. There are no large hills in this section of the trail, but quite a few small ones.

When you are 30km from the car park, the trail descends steeply via a series of bridges and boardwalks, past Kotukutuku Waterfall, to a beautiful beach on Lake Taupo’s shores. This is the end of this section of the trail; there is a shelter and toilets here.

From Kotukutuku, it is either a long ride back to the road, or book the boat to take you to Kawakawa Bay where the trail resumes, or back to Kinloch.

Whangamata Rd car park to Kawakawa Bay & Kinloch, (Grade 3 Intermediate) 19km

From the Whangamata Rd car park, the trail follows the Orakau Stream and harakeke (flax) wetland through regenerating native bush down to Kawakawa Bay. The trail is mostly downhill and offers views across the lake to the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.

From Kawakawa Bay, where there is shelter and toilets, a well graded climb leads to a rocky lookout. Take in the views and catch your breath before enjoying the long downhill to Kinloch. There are a couple of cafés at Kinloch, as well as toilets and picnic areas.

W2K (Kinloch to Whakaipo Bay) and Headland Loop, (Grade 3 Intermediate) 13-22.5km

From Kinloch, the final section climbs gently over the headland to Whakaipo Bay. If you are feeling fresh at the top of the hill then you can add 10km to your trip by doing the signposted Headland Loop. There is a shelter and toilet 900m from the top of the climb where the Headland Loop rejoins the main track.

From there, it’s downhill to Whakaipo Bay where there is a recreation area with another shelter and toilets. This is 13km from Taupo via Acacia Bay. Arrange for a pick-up or pedal into Taupo.

Getting There

Taupo is situated in the Central North Island at the crossroads of State Highway 1 and the Thermal Explorer Highway. It's nestled on the northern shores of Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake.

State Highway 1 is the country's main trunk line for road travel, connecting Auckland to Wellington. If travelling by car, allow 3.5 hours driving south from Auckland to Taupo and 5.5 hours driving north from Wellington. Being on the main trunk line, Taupo is also serviced by all the main bus services.

Air New Zealand operates daily flights to and from Taupo Airport, situated just 8 kilometres from the town's centre. Auckland and Wellington are the main gateways for both domestic and international travel.

International flights direct from Sydney, Australia into Rotorua Airport are now available, making travel to the nearby Taupo region easier than ever.

Transport to and from the trail can be arranged with Taupo based companies, Tread Routes, Great Lake Shuttles or Chris Jolly Outdoors.

Visitor Information

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Rowan Sapsford - Bike Taupo
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